Mrs. Julien’s #CBR5 Review #88: The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas

A historical romance featuring two people who are desperately in love and desperately terrified by it, The Luckiest Lady in London is by turns enjoyable and discomfiting, but always entertaining.

Felix, Marquess of Wrenworth, is ironically named. He is not happy, although he is in control of his world and has fastidiously created a public persona for himself that both he and Society refer to as the “Ideal Gentleman”. Felix is objectively perfect: smart, rich as Croesus, handsome, polite, athletic, and debonair. It is a beautifully crafted shell hiding a wounded heart.

Given a hero named Felix, I chose to look into the meaning the heroine’s name and I learned that Louisa means “renowned warrior”.  It’s appropriate. She needs her battle skills and instincts for self-protection. Too old to be a debutante, Louisa nonetheless has one Season to land a husband who can provide financial security for her family, including an invalid sister. Like Felix, she has meticulously fashioned the image she presents to the world: bright, relaxed, and winning. She has a realistic view of her charms and prospects, and she conducts herself accordingly. Louisa is not necessarily conniving, just extremely pragmatic. Felix is not even on her list of suitable husbands; she has set her sights on two appropriate men and while she does not expect to marry for love, she will not martyr herself for her family either.

Louisa and Felix first meet at a soiree and instantly recognize the truth, and its danger, in each other:  they are kindred spirits with carefully maintained facades. When their acquaintance expands and Louisa’s best prospects are found to be wanting, she and Felix begin their dance. They spar and tease even as something much more potent lingers beneath the surface. Felix and Louisa are intellectually fascinated, sexually volcanic, and emotionally fearful of each other.

My previous forays with Sherry Thomas have resulted in “I just can’t” as I usually find her books too heavy and serious. The usual sobriety is still present in The Luckiest Lady in London, but it was couched in such delightful writing and sincere characters that it did not get in the way for me this time. My only carp is that the angst did indeed make me writhe (and not the good kind of writhing I look to these books for) and that when the denouement proceeded, I felt it moved a little too close to cutesy given the tone established by the rest of the book.  But never mind that, I would still recommend The Luckiest Lady in London to readers looking for entertaining, slightly intense, and well-written escapism.

This review and The (Shameful) Tally 2013 can also be found on my tiny little blog.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #139: Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas

Briony Asquith and Leo Marsden grew up on neighbouring estates. Leo loved Briony long before she was even aware of him as anything but the baby Marsden, youngest of four brothers. So when the brilliant, yet socially awkward lady physician proposed to outgoing, talented renaissance man Leo, he was elated, but no one else in society thought it would last. And it didn’t. Growing increasingly more distant and cold from their wedding day, Briony starts to actually recoil from Leo’s touch, and no matter how he tries to get her to open up, physically and emotionally, their marriage seems doomed. When Briony wakes up one morning with a stark white stripe through her dark hair, she files for an annulment.

Three years later, Leo shows up at Briony’s medical clinic in a remote corner of India. Briony’s sister has been writing both of them for years with melodramatic stories trying to push the two back together, but this time he’s fairly certain she’s not lying about Briony’s father’s health being in danger. Much of India is at the the brink of rebellion, and he feels it’s his duty to get Briony back to England safely. Leo doesn’t know exactly why their marriage failed, but he’s convinced it must have been his fault, that he failed or mistreated her in some way.

Briony is not convinced her sister isn’t lying once again, but she also knows that she would never forgive herself if her father dies and she did not try to return to his bedside. She reluctantly goes with Leo, uncomfortable in his presence, but with no other choice of escort. As the couple make their way through the rough Indian countryside, dealing with first Leo’s malaria, then a violent and bloody native rebellion as they seek refuge in a nearby fort, they find that the three years apart may have allowed both of them to heal some of their hurts, and open up lines of communication to the other. Can they finally talk about all the things that made their all too brief marriage so miserable, and maybe begin to forgive each other and themselves? More on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #138: Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas

Lord and Lady Tremaine have the ideal marriage, according to society. Having lived apart, on separate continents, for the the last decade since their wedding, they are nonetheless all that is elegant and courteous in relation to each other. Until Lady Tremaine shocks everyone, not least her own husband, by asking for a divorce, so she can marry someone else.

Philippa “Gigi” Rowland was the wealthy only child of an industrialist, with a deeply ambitious mother determined that her only daughter end up a duchess. When Gigi’s noble, yet penniless fiancee (a duke) dies two weeks before the wedding, all their dreams seem crushed, as the duke’s handsome cousin, now a marquess (his father inherits the dukedom) is promised to another. Gigi still refuses give up on Camden Saybrook, manipulating and scheming to get him to marry her. Her plots are revealed the day after their wedding, and Cameron, who’d been a very happy bridegroom, leaves her in disgust.

Full review on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #137: The Luckiest Lady in London

4.5 stars

Felix Rivendale, the Marquess of Wrenworth is known in society as “the Ideal Gentleman”. He is handsome, wealthy, charming, generous and famous for his lavish hospitality. Men want to be him, or at least his good friend, and it goes without saying that he’s the most eligible bachelor on the market. He’s clearly not a virgin, but there is not a whiff of scandal surrounding him, either. Few, if any, suspect that his cheerful and impeccable demeanour is a clearly constructed facade. Having been used as a pawn in the emotional warfare his parents conducted against each other, he’s become deeply distrustful of strong emotions, and a master at manipulating those around them so subtly that they believe his suggestions are their own.

Miss Louisa Cantwell is the daughter of a country baron and and one of five sisters, none of whom are likely to snag the wealthy husband needed to secure the family’s fortunes. She is neither particularly financially or physically desirable as a bride, but is also fully aware of it, and has worked tirelessly for the last eight years to plan her perfect season. Using every trick in the book, including bust improvers to make it look as if nature gave her a generous bosom, she’s determined to find a husband by the end of the season, preferably not one who’s too disagreeable. She’s found two likely candidates, and uses every chance she gets to cultivate them and their relatives. She wouldn’t dream of setting her sights on Lord Wrenworth, and is rather appalled with herself when they finally meet and she’s both overwhelmed with lust for him, while at the same time convinced that he’s a scoundrel, who can see right through all her. She’s wondering why no one else suspects that he’s not entirely as he seems.

So what happens next? Read the full review on my blog.